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Cache Valley earthquakes are reminder about potential for Utah’s big one

Jan 4, 2023, 6:52 PM

LOGAN, Utah — The Cache Valley has seen more than a dozen earthquakes in just a few days. All of them centered around the west side of the county.

They’re very small quakes but they still deserve our attention.

In all, 14 shook rural Cache Valley and they served as a reminder that we’re likely to see a big one within the next 50 years somewhere along the Wasatch Front.

The damage can be catastrophic, and we need to be ready.

“I think I’ve felt eight so far,” Benson resident Levi Jensen said. “It’s been kind of wild, just the earthquakes waking me up in the night and during the day. We’ve had quite a few.”

Doctor Brady Cox has kept a close watch on the activity. “The largest one was yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. That was a magnitude 3.1 earthquake and that was the one that most people felt,” Cox said.

The Utah State University professor said that’s relatively small but it should make us all consider how well we’re prepared for a major quake.

Memories of Magna quake still fresh for those whose homes were damaged

Much of the Wasatch Front population and I-15 sits along Utah’s major fault line.

Cox said, “In fact, there’s almost a 50% probability that an earthquake that’s about magnitude seven will happen in the next 50 years.”

As a civil engineer, he’s traveled to ground zero for major earthquakes all over the world. He’s studied the seismic impact on buildings in Turkey and Haiti. Even first-world countries like New Zealand see the devastation. His major concern is brick or stacked-stone buildings that don’t have rebar reinforcement. “They perform horribly in earthquakes. They’re the major cause of death in earthquakes around the world,” he said.

Utah has about 144,000 of them. There has been a lot of work done to retrofit major structures like the Salt Lake City Temple. The Temple project is expected to be complete in 2025.

While that’s a big task, Cox said we should also see how well we’re prepared at home, with food, water, and other daily needs.

He said one neighborhood in New Zealand shared portable toilets for months.

You can download a Utah earthquake preparedness handbook here.

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Cache Valley earthquakes are reminder about potential for Utah’s big one